Ian Hill Director of Sales Hanbury Manor

A BIT ABOUT – Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel

 & Country Club

A major lick of paint, a £2+ million refurbishment and what a transformation!  Seventeen individual and beautifully designed events spaces hosting 8 – 200 guests for corporate events, meetings and conferences. Each meeting room has superb views of the 200-acre estate and have been updated with innovative technology including Clevertouch Screens, Smart Write on Walls and Clickshare connectivity. A plethora of multi-functional spaces are ideal for breakout areas and networking with no chance of getting lost as new signage technology directs delegates around the events hub.  Golf of course – the Jack Nicklaus II designed golf course is regarded as one of the best in the country.  Located to the north of London and within easy reach of Heathrow, Luton and Stansted Airports, Hanbury Manor should be on your wish list for the high-tech meeting space alone.  Check out the Editor’s Destination for the full story.

“Boro” Boy Ian Hill has a long track record of working within the travel and hotel industries.  An early stint with Carnival Cruises gave Ian the taste for worldwide travel before senior sales and marketing roles with IHG, DeVere and latterly Marriott Hotels. Since his arrival at Hanbury Manor 18 months ago, sales for this great conference and events venue have gone through the roof thanks to Ian’s efforts and a superb refurbishment programme of the meeting and event space.  We caught up with Ian just before he rushed off to another client meeting just long enough to ask him 12 questions as part of meetingsclub’s 12 Minute With feature.  

How did you get into the Hotel industry? 

Following a Tourism Management degree at University and 18 months travelling, I applied for my first job as Sales Manager at Cambridge Garden House with no knowledge of the industry.  I remember the General Manager who interviewed me talking all about DDR’s and 24-Hour Rates and loads of other ACRONYMS – I had no idea what she meant.  I left the interview thinking I had no chance of getting the job but was offered it and so really fell into the World of hotel sales.  Now I’m at Hanbury Manor, it’s a fantastic property and a great time to be working here following the extensive refurbishment of the conference and meeting space. 

How has Brexit affected your business? 

It’s always easy for a Sales Director to blame external circumstances for lack of business.  However, we have seen some industry sector clients losing confidence in holding big events e.g. pharmaceutical, finance and automotive.  The Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce is also reporting nervousness amongst their Members.  It’s just the uncertainty of what the future holds and making long term decisions on major future events.  We’ve had to work a lot harder for every bit of business, but 2018 was a good year for us and we’re in a strong position going into 2019. 

What trends have you spotted amongst Event Bookers? 

The introduction of state-of-the art technology in our meeting rooms as part of our refurbishment programme e.g. the Clever Touch Screens and digital flip charts, has confirmed that organisers are wanting this type of presentation equipment for a variety of different events, meetings and training courses.  

 

 

There is now an absolute expectation that the supporting IT infrastructure is robust and comes as a standard with no charge. Booking lead in times are getting ever shorter often within an 8/12-week window and an increasing number of clients are trying to hold space without signing a contract which means we have to have excellent diary management.  In terms of length of meetings, we are now seeing longer events, with typical bookings for two/three days, many of which are exclusive use. 

Who has inspired you most in your career?  

Two people.  My first GM Diane van Grodelle who took a risk giving me my initial hotel sales role.  She was very supportive and very good operationally showing the need for sales and ops to work closely together.  Also, my first Revenue Manager Paula Hayes taught me the importance of commerciality and that it’s not just about bringing in business, but business at the right price, at the right time.  I still speak to Paula today if I ever need some advice. 

If you could work anywhere in the world where would it be 

Australia.  I have spent quite a bit of time travelling around the country and would like to work in Sydney whilst living in Manly Beach, commuting into work on the Manly ferry each day. 

What has been your proudest business moment? 

When I was IHG I was nominated for the Sales Person of the Year across all business sectors at the National Sales Awards at Grosvenor House.  Even though I did not win, it was a huge achievement and great honour to get to the finals.  Over my career I have also won many large pieces of business.  Every time you land a big contract it’s special! 

What are your favourite business use APPs? 

I get a lot of good ideas from Linked In.  There is some great material on there relating to leadership of people which I find very useful and inspirational in my present role. 

What piece of advice would you give to your teenage self? 

To have confidence in your own ability. In my teenage years I believed you had to work hard to get to the top.  But I now believe that if you are more confident you can progress more quickly particularly if you back yourself whilst always retaining honesty and integrity in your business dealings. 

What three items would you bring to a desert island?  

  1. A facility to show unlimited movies which I can watch all day 
  2. A piece of technology so that I can watch Middlesbrough’s football games home and away 
  3. A picture of my wife and son 

What did you do last weekend? 

I have no recollection of last weekend.  We have a one-year old son who is keeping us up all night at the moment and I don’t know what day it is.  Oh, yes – I went to see Middlesbrough beat Birmingham 2-1 at St Andrews. 

Is there anything on your bucket list that you haven’t yet done? 

I have a few countries left on my travel bucket list.  I’d like to go to North and South Korea and Iran.  Places that are hard to get to. 

If you were the Prime Minister what would be the first thing you changed? 

I would attempt to try and reduce the gap between rich and poor, both in the UK and worldwide.